Prosthetic dentistry, also known as prosthodontics, is a dental specialty that involves restoring injured, damaged or missing teeth with prosthetic replacements, providing patients with aesthetic and practical benefits. Prosthetic replacements help restore a patient's smile and confidence, as well as their ability to eat and speak with ease after tooth loss.
Tooth loss is a common condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. Missing teeth can cause embarrassment while smiling, speaking or eating. Many people lack self-confidence when they are missing teeth. Prosthetic dentistry provided by Dr. Derek Zimbardi and Dr. Cristina David allows patients to restore their missing teeth along with the confidence that accompanies a happy and healthy smile. While many people seek prosthetic replacements for cosmetic purposes, prosthetic dentistry also treats medical conditions and promotes oral health. Damaged and missing teeth can lead to other dental conditions such as gum disease, infection and further tooth loss.
You may experience tooth damage or loss as a result of:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Gum disease
- Repeated dental procedures
There are several different types of prosthetic materials commonly used to replace damaged or missing teeth. These materials may be permanently implanted or glued to the mouth or can be removable and temporary. They may replace individual teeth, a few teeth or all of your teeth. Some of these include:
Porcelain Laminates/Dental Veneers
Veneers are commonly used for cosmetic purposes and can help create a bright and beautiful smile. Veneers are shells made from composite or porcelain that fit over your natural teeth to provide a white, even, full smile and can cover up crooked, chipped or discolored teeth. They are bonded to the front of the tooth after the tooth has been buffed in preparation of the veneer, which is then bonded to the teeth with an etching solution and special light. Veneers typically last for 10-15 years and are more durable and less expensive than other materials. However, veneers cannot replace missing teeth.
Crowns are individual prosthetic teeth used to replace missing or severely damaged teeth. Crowns are placed with cement as a cap over an existing tooth or over an implant abutment. The actual crown can be made from metal, porcelain or a combination of the two and provide a naturally looking and feeling replacement. Crowns provide a strong, sturdy, aesthetically pleasing replacement that can withstand the same pressures of a regular tooth, letting patients enjoy the convenience of eating, speaking and smiling without any problems.
Dental bridges replace missing teeth with a short row of prosthetics that rely on the strength of surrounding teeth and help stabilize the bite. Bridges also help keep surrounding teeth from moving into the open space of the missing tooth. The surrounding teeth are prepared for the bridge, which is then attached to the teeth. Bridges can be permanent or removable and provide a restored function and appearance.
Dentures are for people who have lost many or all of their teeth and are usually used to replace an entire arch of teeth. Dentures can be removable or fixed, and partial or full, depending on each patient's needs and preferences. Dentures can be treated just like your natural teeth but require special care and adjustment when they are removable.
Implants are small titanium screws that are drilled into the jaw bone to replace missing teeth. The implant serves as the root of a replacement tooth and can be covered by a crown, bridge or dentures to provide a natural-looking replacement for the missing tooth. The implant is first placed into the jaw and then allowed to fuse with the bone before the prosthetic is placed on top. Implants provide long-lasting support that most closely replaces the individual strength and stability of your natural teeth.
Dr. Zimbardi or Dr. David can help you decide which type of prosthetic tooth is right for you and your dental needs. Prosthetic replacement teeth are placed in the mouth during one or more appointments, depending on the complexity of your individual treatment.